Venezuela Steps Up Efforts To Thwart Cocaine Traffic
Elite soldiers were deployed in an anti-drug operation to destroy the 157 clandestine airfields discovered in Apure state in southwestern Venezuela. (Photos By Juan Forero -- The Washington Post)
By Juan Forero
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, April 7, 2008; Page A08
ELORZA, Venezuela -- Facing criticism that cocaine trafficking is out of control, Venezuela's government this year has embarked on an aggressive program to track drug-smuggling planes and destroy clandestine airstrips used by Colombian drug clans, Venezuelan drug enforcement and military officials said in a series of interviews.More
In what appears to be a sharp shift from last year, Venezuelan aircraft and munitions experts have destroyed 157 dirt strips here in the grassy plains state of Apure, most of them in the last two weeks. The government has installed three new Chinese-made radar stations and plans to put up seven others that will completely cover Venezuelan airspace and permit authorities to track unidentified flights originating in neighboring Colombia.
"As a state, we are showing that there is a policy to fight narco-trafficking," said National Guard Col. Nestor Reverol, president of the National Anti-Drug Office, which coordinates the programs. "We're not saying it's just a problem for Colombia and the United States. We're assuming responsibility. That's why we're doing this."